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For more information, please see full course syllabus of AP English Language & Composition
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The Rhetorical Analysis Prompt

  • What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
    • A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of essay that asks you to read between the lines of a text and discuss how the writer expresses himself or herself.
    • A rhetorical analysis essay prompt usually includes the words analyze, explain, and/or point of view.
  • Reading the Prompt—Twice
    • The first time you read the prompt, just read to find out what kind of essay you’re writing. Look for the words analyze, explain, or point of view.
    • The second time, circle clues or key elements that you know or need to figure out. Are there unfamiliar names or terms? Is there relevant historical or contextual information?
  • Reading the Text
    • Once you’ve read the prompt, it’s time to read the text.
    • Yes, I know you’ve already read the text during the 15-minute reading period. Read it again. Trust me.
    • No, you don’t have to go over it with a microscope. Skimming is fine.
  • What to Look For
    • Look for the elements of argument:
      • What is the author’s claim?
      • What support does he or she offer?
      • What warrant connects those two elements?
    • Look for unusual language—especially if it’s loaded!
    • Ask yourself why the author chose the examples he or she did.
    • Underline any passages you may want to quote.
    • Keep the purpose of the text in mind at all times.
    • Example/Illustration
    • Classification
    • Comparison/Contrast
    • Analogy
    • Process Analysis
    • Cause & Effect
    • Definition
    • Description
    • Narration
    • Induction and Deduction
  • How to Answer
    • Outline before you write. YES, REALLY.
    • Begin with the author’s main rhetorical strategies and/or point of view, and how they intersect with the question. Make sure you answer the question you’re being asked!
    • Begin with a brief hook, if possible.
    • State your thesis clearly.
    • Provide a “road map” to the rest of your essay (at least, if you’re using the five-paragraph format). Then make sure you stick to that map!
    • Line up your support with your strongest material at the beginning and end of the list.
    • Don’t spend too much time on any one point. Pace yourself—you’ve only got 40 minutes.
    • Wrap up with a conclusion that puts a little twist on your thesis.

The Rhetorical Analysis Prompt

Lecture Slides are screen-captured images of important points in the lecture. Students can download and print out these lecture slide images to do practice problems as well as take notes while watching the lecture.